SECRETARY Herminio Coloma Jr. deserves praise for using some of yesterday’s Malacañang press briefing time to “admit shortfalls” of the Aquino administration.
We hope President Aquino doesn’t fire him for taking the first step to make the Aquino administration excellent. We say this because there is one dominant characteristic of the President that everyone has seen these three and a half years-plus that he and the Liberal Party and its allies have ruled this country. This dominant characteristic is his loathing for admitting mistakes and apologizing for them.
The shortfalls Mr. Coloma spoke of are the very items on President Aquino’s desk that the credit-risk rater Standard and Poor’s mentioned when it announced that it had raised the Philippine credit rating once more. Our country is now one notch higher than investment grade—which should attract even more foreign direct investors to locate here.
This will mean more jobs for Filipinos.
S & P’s said the administration must still work to widen the narrow revenue—the tax—base. Mr. Coloma said the administration is seriously addressing that problem. The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), said he, is working to increase the taxation-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio.
S&P’s also said the Aquino administration must solve the problem of the lack of infrastructure—good roads to make the farm produce of rural areas reach the cities faster and at less cost and make bringing to the rural areas the benefits of modernization and development the cities enjoy, more ports, bridges, stable electricity and water supply.
Secretary Coloma boasted of the government’s accelerated spending on infrastructure projects these last three years and spoke of more spending for in the next years. He reiterated the President’s and the economic managers’ reliance on PPP [public private partnership], mentioning the Metro Rail Transit and big highway and infrastructure projects.
S&P’s also told the Aquno administration that it has to improve its delivery of basic services to the people.
Secretary Coloma said the Aquino government is doing its best to deliver basic services and reduce the country’s massive poverty. He said the administration has in its Philippine Development Plan the expenditure of billions more for direct services for the poor. He said the plan is not to wait for the “trickle down effect” of a growing economy in macro-economic terms. “That is why we have implemented the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program that gives direct conditional cash transfers to families below the poverty threshold,” he said.
Standard and Poor’s gave the Philippines the high investment grade last year. It is really a feat for the Philippines to be given an even higher grade this year. S&P’s said they gave the Philippines an impressively high rating “because we now believe the ongoing reforms to address shortcomings in structural, administrative, institutional, and governance areas will endure beyond the current administration.” Very good.
But it is very bad that the administration’s most destructive failings are not being addressed.
The most destructive failings
These failings are the ones that will prevent it from getting a grade of excellent from neutral, objective, scientific and morally upright observers. They are being allowed to grow worse, and fester like a cancer.
These failings are dishonesty and hypocrisy, lust for power, and disregard for the rule of law and the etiquette of civility.
A microcosm of the national situation and how these three grave faults have done irreparable damage is the way the Yolanda rescue, relief and rehabilitation work is being handled. Six months have passed but the victims are still in pain, funds are not accounted for, very little rehabilitation has been done. There is no general plan whatsoever.
To advance the poor prospects of the Liberal Party’s and President Aquino’s chosen candidate for the 2016 presidential elections, the funds have been distributed to the local governments of East Visayas by Secretary Mar Roxas, instead of the Rehabilitation Czar former senator Ping Lacson. Mr. Roxas himself unjustly humiliated the mayor of Tacloban. Today East Visayas has hardly been restored to normal.
More recently all these three grave faults of the President—and the administration—were manifested in what has happened to the chairperson of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes, Mrs. Margarita P. Juico. She apparently displeased Mr. Roxas over a shady request for documents. The President, Mr. Roxas and the Liberal Party need the PCSO chairmanship for the next elections. Mr. Aquino had promised Cavite politician Ayong Maliksi the PCSO position. So, the President berates one of his mother’s dearest friends and co-workers, the honest chair of the PCSO who improved its management and handling of funds. He scolds her because she had crossed “my alter ego, Mar Roxas.”
After that, and learning that Maliksi was being groomed to replace her, Mrs. Juico resigns.
Good people are sacrificed to serve political ends in this supposed-to-be “righteous path” government of President Aquino.